Secret Gardens: Bonnington Square Garden, Vauxhall

Bonnington Square: a secret community garden in the heart of Vauxhall

If you take a walk through the backstreets of this part of Lambeth, you will be transported into an urban oasis of tropical palms, trees and plants. Along one of the side streets lies Bonnington Square’s #SecretGarden in Vauxhall.

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Above: the streets of this part of Vauxhall are lined with tropical plants

The houses in the area were originally constructed as homes for railway workers. During WWII, several houses were destroyed through bomb damage, and the space left behind is now where the present gardens are located.

The garden is home to many pieces of history; the nine metre high Industrial Revolution waterwheel was rescued from a nearby marble factory. The sign at the entrance to the gardens tells the story of the legend: “Once a year the wheel turns, bringing forth beautiful, crystal clear champagne from the worlds below (but only for believers)."

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Above: Bonnington Square's hidden wheel


The gardens are lovingly and carefully maintained by local residents, and are open to the public to explore. A Helping Hand sculpture rests above the entrance to the gardens, and serves as a reminder of the community action which created and preserves the spirit of the gardens.

 Bonnington square garden, vauxhall, secret garden, lambeth

Above: the entrance to Bonnington Square Garden

Close by, accessible through a secret passage (the door looks like it leads to a house), are Harleyford Road Community Gardens. These gardens were designed and laid out by local residents in 1984.

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Above: the secret passage between Harleyford Road Community Garden and Bonnington Square Garden


There are many areas in this space, including children’s play area, lawns, picnic area, and a wildlife pond. In 2009, mosaics were added to the paths and walls.

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Above: mosaics in the pathway at Harleyford Road Community Garden

Both spaces are beautiful and inspirational examples of community gardens, maintained and looked after by local residents. Take a walk through Vauxhall and see what you uncover.

How to get there

Bonnington Square Gardens, 2-12 Bonnington Square, Vauxhall SW8 1TQ.
Harleyford Road Community Gardens, Vauxhall SE11 5AX.

Travel: Nearest Underground stations are Vauxhall (6 minute walk) and Oval (10 minute walk or Bus route 36, 185 or 436.)

Both gardens are accessible via through a gate on Harleyford Road or Bonnington Square, or through the passageway that links one to the other between the houses (see image above). When visiting, be mindful that these community gardens are tended to by local residents and overlooked by their homes.

Entry: Free
Opening times: Monday-Sunday, usually 9.30am-7.00pm or from morning to evening. As the gardens are run by volunteers there may be times when they are closed during the day.

Visit the Bonnington Square Garden community website for more information